Photo credit: David Monseur/Accent Images/Courtesy Akron RubberDucks

It’s time again to start the exercise of looking at each position in the Cleveland Guardians farm system and ranking the prospects by position to get a jump start on the next season’s rankings. It’s not an exact science but it’s a good thought experiment and debate to see where we think the best prospects in the system rank by position. Our third look at the position group looks at the corner infield spots, where Cleveland has improved over the years but the depth and quality still leaves a lot to be desired. The reason the corner infield spot is combined between first base and third base is because there just aren’t enough players that project at those positions worth talking about in a top 10 of their own, plus players move from positions as you’ll see on this list.

Last year, the list didn’t include Micah Pries, who had a breakout season of sorts, it included Nolan Jones, who moved to the outfield and is now on the Colorado Rockies, along with several other players who are out of the organization. That again speaks to a weak group but also some improvements.

2021 Top 10 Rankings by Position

2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 catching prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 relief pitching prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 right handed pitching prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 left handed starting pitching prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 centerfield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 corner infield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 middle infield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians top 10 corner outfield prospects
2021 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Outfield Prospects

2022 Top 10 Rankings by Position

2022 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Outfield Prospects
2022 Cleveland Guardians Top 10 Catching Prospects

RankAggregate RankingJustin LadaWillie Hood
1Jhonkensy NoelJhonkensy NoelJhonkensy Noel
2Micah PriesMicah PriesMicah Pries
3Gabriel RodriguezGabriel RodriguezGabriel Rodriguez
4Dayan FriasDayan FriasWill Bartlett
5Joe NaranjoWill BartlettDayan Frias
6Will BartlettJoe NaranjoJoe Naranjo
7Junior SanquintinDavid FryJunior Sanquintin
8David FryJunior SanquintinDavid Fry
9Maick ColladoMaick ColladoMaick Collado
10Oscar CedenoOscar CedenoOscar Cedeno

1. Jhonkensy Noel

Age: 21
B/T: R/R
Rule 5 status: On-40
Outlook: A few caveats here. A) Noel played most at outfield and third base than he did at first base in 2022. That was due to Joe Naranjo being 1B only at Lake County. B) They were trying to increase Noel’s defensive versatility in order to get his bat in the lineup. If he was a 1B only prospect, they’d have probably played him in at 1B more than they did (though Micah Pries also took ABs at Akron as well). C) His 2022 levels were High-A and Double-A and he finished the final week in Triple-A, so that “2022 level” is a little deceiving. He should probably start in Double-A in 2023, but we’ll see. We have Noel at the corner infield spot at first base, because he cannot play third base effectively right now and we see him ending up at first base long term, and of course, he has the most power potential of any prospect in the entire system.

2. Micah Pries

Age: 24
B/T: L/R
Rule 5 status: R5 eligible (2022 – unselected)
Outlook: Of anyone on this list, Pries might have had the most interesting season. He broke out in terms of power and speed (20 steals!) and Cleveland moved him from the outfield to first base on a more regular basis. Pries has an interesting backstory between his family bloodlines in baseball and being under recruited in high school and missing 2019 and 2020 in the pros. There could be some late breakout upside here and Pries can play first and outfield and add power/some speed in that spot.

3. Gabriel Rodriguez

Age: 20
B/T: R/R
Rule 5 status: R5 eligible (2022 – unselected)
Outlook: Rodriguez had a mini-breakout in 2022. He improved his conditioning and showed off a good glove at third base, and a much better bat and approach going from Single-A to High-A. After his disastrous 2021, Rodriguez showed the potential Cleveland saw in him when he got the biggest international signing bonus from the team to a position player in club history. He finished the year with shoulder surgery and should be healthy for most of the 2023 season, if not all. He’s a third base only option now, but he has the potential bat to work there and the glove is more than good enough there right now.

4. Dayan Frias

Age: 20
B/T: S/R
Outlook: Perhaps it is cheating a little bit to have Frias on this list as a “corner” but he did spend most of this time in 2022 at third base in Single-A. He also split plenty of time at shortstop. But because he played mostly third base and it seems like Cleveland has other priorities at shortstop ahead of him, we ut him here. But no doubt some of his value on this list is derived from the fact that defensively he has some versatility. He also has an interesting, possibly passive approach ha at the plate and maybe some contact skills. He struck out more than you might have thought as a 20 year old at Low-A but there’s still a lot to like in the profile here as a potential utility option. The floor here is maybe what gives him the higher ranking than others with more traditional “corner” upside

5. Joe Naranjo

Age: 21
B/T: L/L
 If Naranjo were not left handed he’d probably be played another infield spot He’d probably be a utility infielder or someone with more versatility. Naranjo repeated High-A in 2022 and tapped into some more power, walked more and swung and missed some as well. He won a minor league Gold Glove at first and still profiles as a Casey Kotchman/Jake Bauers type that might have some major league value. Perhaps he’d see an uptick in value if he spent some time in the OF, but the bat, age and defensive utility at first base, even if that upside is limited, still has value in these rankings of a light position in Cleveland’s system.

6. Will Bartlett

Age: 21
B/T: R/R
Rule 5 status: 2023
Outlook: Power potential, mostly shown early and in flashes throughout his career so far, is why Bartlett is here. He’s a potential three-true outcomes first basemenan though he has yet to get to his power consisntely in games. Only in stretches. But again, with alimited group to choose from here, the otenital is worth looking at.

7. Junior Sanquintin

Age: 20
B/T: B/R
Rule 5 status: Eligible (2022 – unselected)
Outlook: Yet another high power potential, low game output member of this list. Sanquintin was signed as a shortstop and quickly added to his frame and became a corner only. He was pretty much just a first basemen last yer who posted some big exit velos and some power but still struggled with swing and miss. So again, were’ banking on some upside here but the swing and miss at his age and level don’t bode well ofr the future. But it’s something.

8. David Fry

Age: 27
B/T: R/R
Rule 5 status: Eligible (2021 – unselected)
Outlook: In 2022, Fry mostly played third and first while catching sometimes. His value does come more for his bat and versatility in that he has caught and not that he’s a great defensive catcher. His bat certanily doesn’t profile alone at third or first long term. It’s more of a package deal where the bat is solid in this utility/hybrid catcher role. Cleveland doesn’t seem to trust his defense enough to utilize it right now, but in a shallow list of corner options, where’s more likely to play than catcher, he’s worth a spot.

9. Maick Callado

Age: 19
B/T: S/R
ACL Complex
Rule 5 status: 2025
Outlook: Callado has played both corners and shown an interesting bat in both the DSL complex level and Arizona. He’s built smaller for a corner too but so far the bat has been interesting enough to warrant a spot here.

10. Oscar Cedeno

B/T: S/R
DSL Complex
Rule 5 status: 2024
Outlook: An undersized teenage switch hitter, Cedno mostly played first base but also saw time at other infield positions and even left field. So who knows where his future lies. He is 19 and is still not stateside yet, which is tough, but again, it’s a shallow list and he put up solid numbers last year. So, here he is


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